Club History

Club History Image: 

HISTORY OF THE MADELINE ISLAND YACHT CLUB, INC.

In 1960, Harry Nelson, native Islander, saw the need for a small boat marina on Madeline Island. He felt that the area between the Mission Bridge on Old Fort Road and the mouth of the Mission Creek would be the logical place for such a facility. After coordinating with the abutting property owners, he went to work with dredge and pile driver. A new outlet to Lake Superior was dredged further south. The creek was deepened and two sea walls were constructed. Then the boat slips were constructed. This marina filled to capacity very quickly with pleasure boats and an occasional fish tug. Harry commented through the local news paper at the time that many more boats could be accommodated if the bridge was either raised or removed to permit use of the east side.

In 1964, Mr. Ted Gary, a second generation island summer resident and property owner, purchased the marina from Harry Nelson. Mr. Gary also purchased a considerable amount of adjacent property and set about constructing a first-class marina. Harry was hired to do all required excavation and surface preparation. With the able assistance of construction companies from Ashland and Bayfield along with many Islanders and local men, the work began. They drove pilings on the east side of Old Fort Road at the bridge and commenced pumping the water out of the swamp. As the water was removed, the construction equipment started to remove the peat bog and bottom clay from the area that is now the Madeline Island Yacht Club. Work continued through the winter and by the next spring, there was a very big hole in the ground which was then filled naturally with the spring run-off. The pilings were then removed allowing access to and from Lake Superior. Through the use of a large sand-sucking apparatus, the sand was dredged from the Lake bottom and pumped to shore, building up the low area where the Pub Restaurant and boat storage yard now exist.

In 1967, the marina building was constructed and the following winter the docks and slips were constructed. Designed by Warzyn Engineering of Madison, Wisconsin, the docks were constructed of steel framing supported by cylindrical slip pilings (the top piling slid down over the lower piling; the lower piling was driven into the Lake bottom). The dock surface was made of two inch thick treated planks resting on the steel framework. Harry Nelson designed the slip piling and presented his idea to the structural engineers who drew up the dock plans.

Purchased from the Madeline Corporation in 1977, the Madeline Island Yacht Club, Inc. (MIYC) was organized by a group of boat owners who loved the Apostle Islands and desired a beautiful, quiet and tranquil marina for their yachting home. MIYC was incorporated in Minnesota and operates on a non-profit basis for the benefit of its 140 members who collectively own the Club and facilities, and direct its operations through its elected Board of Directors.